As the Georgetown men’s and women’s tennis teams prepare for the upcoming seasons, both teams believe that this will be the year it achieves one of the program’s primary goals: capturing a conference championship.
“I think it is a lot more doable to win the Big East,” junior Sara Swift said.
After last year’s finish in the Big East tournament, both teams find themselves in similar positions. The men’s team finished fourth in the regular season but was knocked out by the then No. 5 Xavier Musketeers in the quarterfinals of the Big East tournament. The women also finished fourth in the regular season, but fell to the top-ranked DePaul Blue Demons in the semifinals. The Demons then went on to win the Big East tournament.
Both teams suffered from inconsistency last year. This year, they believe that recognizing this common struggle and trying to work past it will help prepare them for the upcoming season.
“Last year, we kind of had a disappointing Big East [Tournament] after losing to Xavier [in the quarterfinals],” junior Peter Beatty said. “I think last year was a little bit of a rocky year … but this year I think we know how to compete.”
Swift attests to last year’s unpredictability, but also contends that it has shaped a team ready to make a serious run at the Big East Championship.
“It was harder last year because we moved around so much, but this year we have more of a set team. … We all want to win the Big East,” Swift said. “That’s kind of the goal every year. Last year kind of seemed like the first year we could actually accomplish it. Last year, four out of the top six girls were all new, so I think just with one year under their belts, it’ll help a lot.”
According to Head Coach Gordie Ernst, his players are prepared for this season and have come a long way thus far in the program.
“We’ve just got more confidence,” Ernst explained. “It’s two different types of teams. When you watch them play now, you don’t worry about their experience. You don’t worry about them getting nervous. They just play, and they play like veterans.”
Swift, Beatty, and sophomore Cecilia Lynham agreed that winning the doubles point will be one of the most crucial factors for finding success this season. In formal match play, doubles play always precedes singles play and often sets the mood for the remainder of the contest.
“The doubles point is a huge momentum swing,” Beatty said. “For us, that was the biggest difference in our match against Xavier in the regular season and the Big East tournament. They won the doubles point in the Big East [tournament] and we won it in the regular [season] and it completely turned the course of the match.”
“I think if we can get the doubles down, that’ll make everything a lot easier,” Swift said.
Though Ernst also values the doubles point, he is concerned that the players often let concerns about winning it dictate their overall play in a negative way. To further explain his reasoning, Ernst alluded to a legend of another sport.
“Imagine Tom Brady worrying about completing a pass so much that he underthrows and he overthrows [his receivers],” Ernst said. “I want these guys to just relax and go out there, play. We’ve got talent. We’ve got experience. … Sometimes, the significance of the doubles point overwhelms them.”
The men’s team enters its tournament this weekend at the Farnsworth Invitational following wins against Old Dominion and Brown University at the Penn Invitational, where it competed against several Ivy league schools. According to Beatty, the team is more comfortable going forward because of its stability at the top of the lineup.
“[Coach Ernst] has laid out for us what he expects from us and where we are going to play. He wants me to play number one [singles] this year. I played at number one at [Penn Invitational], and there is definitely a lot I can work on in terms of adding consistency to my game.”
Looking to spring postseason play , Ernst believes that both teams have the potential to matchup against some of the best tennis programs in the conference.
“We have the talent on both sides to do it. When you’ve got a group this experienced, when they get to play as underdogs, then you can pull off an upset,” Ernst said.
For now, the Hoyas look forward to the Farnsworth Invitational in Princeton, N.J. this weekend as another form of preparation for spring competition.
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